Editor’s Note: New Radio station launches! Road trip updates! MayoFest and Pride!

While it started last week on the 17th, Pride continues until the 27th. Tonight at 7pm is the Pride Parade from the Sheraton Bugambillia Resort along the Malecon to Olas Altas/Lazaro Cardenas where it will lead into the huge Block Party festivities. In this week’s newspaper, you will find all the Pride events happening.

In addition to Pride, we have the MayoFest events that lead up to next week’s Centennial of Puerto Vallarta. There are dozens of events happening along the Malecon and at various venues throughout the city. Of particular interest might be the Expo Centennial in front of La Isla/entrance to Fluvial. This city has invited a dozen or so participating countries, and as you enter the fair, you can try food and drink and buy products from different countries. Cost of admission is 20 pesos and for 200 pesos you can purchase 25 ride tickets (approx.6-8 rides).

Last weekend we went on a little road trip to the towns of Mascota and Talpa de Allende in the Sierra Madre mountains, east of Vallarta.  We booked our pet-friendly room at the adorable Meson Santa Lucia, which has a coupon at www.cupocity.com for 550 pesos a night, including breakfast. The service was excellent and the room spacious, clean and modern (i.e., the mattress and pillows were very comfortable), opening to an inner garden area. There was even a pool onsite, perfect for relaxing in the warm afternoons, after a day of exploring the town.

Mascota is truly a gem.  400 years of colonial history and 3000 years of indigenous culture. Not only is it beautiful, but it also has tons of things to do. There are old ruins of a partially built church (19c), an even older church (17c), and the oldest of ancient cultural treasures (1200-800bc). Home to a trove of petroglyphs and archeological finds, the indigenous people in the area knew they had found a special place and worshiped it accordingly. Aside from the wonderful archeology/anthropology museum, there is the Casa de las Piedras (House of Stones) where everything, and I mean everything, has been decorated in tiny flat stones, hand collected from the beaches of Banderas Bay over 21 years. Pancho the owner and artist takes great pride in his work, and he will happily share his space with you. Possibly the best 10 pesos you’ll ever spend.  The nearby towns of Yerbabuena and Navidad offer further glimpses into rural life in Mexico.

Mascota and Talpa de Allende are rightfully afforded the designation of Pueblo Magico. While Mascota is a step back in time to small-town life in Mexico. Talpa de Allende is a tourist destination of great religious significance, entertaining over three million visitors who arrive on pilgrimage to ask the Virgin of Guadalupe for a miracle. The town is charming, painted bright colours, offering dozens of clean hotels, busy restaurants and souvenir shops selling local sweets.

While we didn’t have time to explore the ancient Maple forest, I have in the past. Just 20kms outside of Talpa there is an ancient forest with oddly out of place sugar maple trees. This small pocket of biodiversity is a holdout from evolutionary change, dating back 2 million years, or so. Extremely rare, this is the only occurrence of sugar maples found in Mexico, where once the entire continent would have supported these trees.

“It’s a rare place where maples (Acer), conifers (Podocarpus) and walnut trees (Juglans)—usually found in cold climates—live in peace and harmony with the world’s tallest tree ferns (Cyathea costaricensis) and other plants that love warmer weather. But what is most wonderful about this particular forest is that it has thrived at this spot for millions of years.” John Pint, Author Saudicaves.com

The drive up and back was largely uneventful, and most of the highway is in good to exceptional condition, except for a small section just before the large bridge that brings you to the town of Estancia. But it’s nothing some careful driving can’t handle. If you have the inclination, I recommend Mascota and Talpa for a weekend visit.

Also! If you haven’t yet – check out our new sister radio station, launched this week – Radiante FM 98.3.

There is an incredible amount of events and activities happening in the coming weeks – get out and enjoy!

Safe travels,